What’s The Answer? (embedded bioinformaticians)

BioStar is a site for asking, answering and discussing bioinformatics questions and issues. We are members of the community and find it very useful. Often questions and answers arise at BioStar that are germane to our readers (end users of genomics resources). Every Thursday we will be highlighting one of those items or discussions here in this thread. You can ask questions in this thread, or you can always join in at BioStar.

This week’s highlighted question is a bit different. It has to do more with how bioinformaticians work, in groups, or in other scenarios.

Question: Are lots of bioinformaticians embedded in wet labs? Any ideas on sources of demographic data on bioinformaticians?

several times recently, I wanted to write something like:

“over the last decade, increasing numbers of bioinformaticians work relatively isolated from each other, e.g. where small numbers of bioinformaticians are embedded in bench-biology labs/institutes/companies”

in the context of discussing the changing needs of support (careers services, professional networks, etc.) of the bioinformatics community.

But this is just my gut feeling, and isn’t based on any concrete data; I could, of course, well be wrong!

I’ve spent some time, therefore, looking for publications/references/analyses of the demographics of bioinformaticians, the kinds of job they tend to have (postdocs, predocs, managers, tech support, core services), the kinds of contexts that they’re working in (pharma, biotech, academic groups/departments; surrounded by many other bioinformaticans, or relatively isolated from others etc.), i.e. the demographics of the profession. But so far, I’ve not found anything that helps address these specific questions, back up these kinds of statements.

Maybe I’m not the only person who has wanted to write this kind of thing; in which case, it’d be great to hear how you went about referencing/assessing this kind of statement (or if you too were stuck, like me, and just went with your gut feelings! :) ).

Plenty of obvious problems with doing this kind of thing, not least defining what it is to be a bioinformatician, how to classify different kinds of jobs etc., so it may well be that there isn’t anything like this out there.

I guess one possible source of information on this could be the ISCB membership data, maybe I should contact them and see if they have any comments/surveys/summaries of this…


I thought the discussion was interesting. There are good and bad reasons that people explored about how embedding would affect a career. But if you have any insights or data on this, please add it to the discussion.